Parents who are substance-involved and who have experienced adverse childhood experiences (ACEs) display heightened risks in the parent-child relationship. Little is known, however, regarding the mechanisms that perpetuate intergenerational cycles of childhood trauma. Further, a paucity of research on trauma, attachment, and parenting has examined fathers. To address these gaps in the literature, we examined a high-risk sample of 101 parents (75 mothers and 26 fathers) who were opioid-involved and who had a child aged 0- to 5-years. Parents rated their ACEs, perceived parent-child attachment, substance use, depressive symptoms, trauma reactions, and parental coping styles. Parents also rated perceptions of their retrospective attachment with their caregivers and their caregivers' substance use. Results indicated that mothers' perceived anxious and frightened-disorganized attachment with their caregivers predicted these same attachment patterns with their own children and that these relationships were moderated by mothers' ACEs. Further, mothers' trauma reactions mediated the relationship between their ACEs and perceived frightened-disorganized attachment with their children, whereas mothers' depressive symptoms predicted uniquely perceived helpless-disorganized attachment with their children above and beyond ACEs (although they did not mediate this relationship). These data suggested that the psychological consequences resulting from ACEs may carry greater risk for mother-child disorganized attachment patterns than ACEs alone. Interestingly, fathers' ACEs did not predict any patterns of attachment with their children. These data highlighted differences in mothers' and fathers' perceptions of attachment. Generally, our results suggested that parenting interventions utilizing trauma-informed and family-focused approaches with mothers and fathers may be most beneficial for breaking intergenerational cycles of trauma.
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Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.)
College of Sciences
Psychology; Clinical Psychology
Length of Campus-only Access
Doctoral Dissertation (Campus-only Access)
Khan, Maria, "When Mothers and Fathers Are "Gone": Predicting Intergenerational Pathways of Trauma, Substance Use, and Attachment in Parents Who Are Opioid-Involved" (2020). Electronic Theses and Dissertations, 2020-. 806.